BALLSTON SPA — At some point along the way in her four-year varsity softball career, Ballston Spa senior Megan McMahon could have questioned why it was always her getting moved around the diamond.
First, she caught.
Then, she played second.
Now, she plays first.
“But she never once complained about it,” said Ballston Spa head coach Amanda Fifield, who recorded her 100th win with the Scotties earlier this week in the Section II Class A title game. “She just did it. She always wants to help the team do as well as it can.”
That team-first attitude has been there throughout a four-year run in which Ballston Spa has won three area championships and made it to last year’s Class AA state title game, and perhaps no player has better embodied that ethos than McMahon during that stretch. The senior delivers on the field in a big way, but her versatility and willingness to adapt are likely the more important characteristics she brings to a Scotties program loaded with star players.
“She’s that kid that no matter what you ask of her, she’s going to do it. There’s no complaints. No questions about it,” said Fifield, whose 20-3 team plays 4 p.m. Saturday against Jamesville-DeWitt (Section III, 20-1) at Moreau Recreational Park in the Class A state quarterfinals. “She just says, 'Yes, Coach,’ and does her best at it.”
“To have players like her that can fill in like that, it’s really important,” Ballston Spa senior Ange Stile said. “That’s what keeps us going.”
McMahon played her natural position of catcher as a freshman when Ballston Spa won its first-ever Section II softball championship, but Stile moved from shortstop to catcher the next season when current sophomore shortstop Ana Gold — who hit the go-ahead home run in the Scotties’ 3-2 area championship win Tuesday against South Glens Falls — made her varsity debut in 2017.
With Stile catching, McMahon got busy learning how to play second base. The next season, she repeated the task of learning a new spot when the Scotties needed her to shift to first base to make their best-possible lineup into a reality.
“So this year is the first year she’s played a position in consecutive years for us,” Fifield said.
McMahon has a .446 on-base percentage this season atop Ballston Spa’s lineup and has scored 33 runs. She’s taken a liking to first base — “I like that the best now” — but would shift to a new position if it meant the Scotties would have a better chance of continuing their season.
“We’ve all known each other for so long. We’ve all bonded. No matter where we all are on the field or with whatever we’re doing, we all have each other’s backs,” McMahon said. “We all pick each other up.”
Ballston Spa sophomore Julia Russell is in her first full season with the varsity. She said that camaraderie has helped fuel the Scotties to another winning season.
“We want to make it feel like one big sisterhood,” Russell, the team’s left fielder, said.
That’s the type of environment Fifield has worked to create during her tenure leading the Scotties — and when she tries to explain to coaches whose youth teams feed into her program what she’s looking for in a player, there is a name that usually comes up.
“I want 1,000 Megan McMahons,” Fifield said. “You want a player that’s for the team and not for themselves. Someone that doesn’t care about their stats.”
McMahon will play college volleyball for SUNY Cortland, but wants her high school athletic career to keep going for another week. Ballston Spa made it to the state semifinals in 2016, to the area title game in 2017 and came up a win shy last year of a state title. From all those years of postseason experience, McMahon said the Scotties feel confident heading into their first state tournament game of 2019.
“There were so many nerves back [in 2016], but now we have so many veterans that have been there and we’re all back,” McMahon said. “Everyone has more of a sense of what we’re going into, so there’s less nervousness.”
There is anticipation, though, and a lot of excitement. Three more wins earn the Scotties their first-ever state championship, but taking each game one by one is what’s on their minds.
“It’s just to win,” McMahon said. “That’s all we want right now.”
IN OTHER ACTION
Besides Ballston Spa, two more Section II teams will be in action Saturday in the state quarterfinals.
In Class B, defending state champion Ichabod Crane will play Plattsburgh at SUNY Plattsburgh. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
In Class C, Chatham meets St. Lawrence at 1 p.m. at SUNY Potsdam.